New Jersey to pay $53 million over COVID-19 deaths at veteran’s home

New Jersey to pay $53 million over COVID-19 deaths at veteran’s home

In a settlement to 119 families, the state of New Jersey has agreed to pay nearly $53 million.

According to reports, those families all had a relative die in the state’s military veteran facilities during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each family will receive an average of $445,000, but the exact number will be determined in future arbitration proceedings, as noted by an administrative official. The amount of the settlement totaled $52,955,000.

“The families of those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 have gone through so much,” said the official. “The settlement will hopefully allow them to move forward without years of protracted and uncertain litigation.”

Nearly 200 veterans lost their lives at two of the veterans’ homes operated by the state in Paramus and Menlo Park after the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. The shocking number of deaths set off a federal civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice.

The DOJ then wrote a letter to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in October of last year that there was “cause for concern that the quality of medical care at these nursing homes has been deficient.”

The investigation is still taking place. Reports say that at the homes, managers opposed mask-wearing for ambulance crews that were in charge of transporting patients. One worker was allegedly forced to go home because he was prohibited from wearing a mask.

The terms of the settlement include that the state of New Jersey will pay out 60 percent, which is roughly $31.7 million, within 90 days following the court’s receipt of all “closing papers” from plaintiffs.

Attorney Paul M. da Costa represented several of the families involved in the suit, and he said the settlement will avoid several years of litigation. “No amount of money can ever obviously replace the lives of the lost veterans, but my clients and I are satisfied that this settlement provides a good measure of civil justice and accountability,” he said.

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